The Latest: French general faces fine in anti-migrant rally

AP News
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Posted: May 12, 2016 3:20 PM
The Latest: French general faces fine in anti-migrant rally

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the migrant influx in Europe (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

A French prosecutor has asked a northern court to fine a former Foreign Legion commander for taking part in an outlawed anti-migrant protest in Calais.

Four-star general Christian Piquemal went on trial Thursday in Boulogne-sur-Mer after he and some 150 other people defied a ban on a demonstration last February in nearby Calais, a port city hosting a sprawling migrant camp.

Prosecutor requested a 500-euro ($570) fine for the 75-year-old Piquemal, according to Dominique Mattei, the general's lawyer. The court will return its ruling on May 26.

The protest, organized by the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA, took place a few weeks before authorities ordered a mass eviction in part of the slum camp where thousands of migrants have gathered to try to sneak across the English Channel to Britain.

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6:45 p.m.

The European Union law enforcement agency Europol says it will recruit up to 200 new investigators to bolster security checks at migration hotspots in Greece and other countries in an attempt to identify suspected extremists and criminals.

Europol announced Thursday that up to 50 "guest officers" will be sent in rotations to "key points on the external border of the EU" to check the flow of migrants. The first new officers are expected to be deployed to Greece by the end of June.

The organization says the new recruits will enable Europol to reinforce security and help "identify movements of suspected terrorists." Europol chief Rob Wainwright says they will help European authorities "safeguard our borders."

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4:45 p.m.

The European Union wants to speed up the supply of funds to Syrian refugees in Turkey and hopes to have 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) available for the effort by the end of July.

The official in charge of EU enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said Thursday that so far "close to 200 million euros of projects have been rolled out, and we have a growing number of further projects in the pipeline."

The EU has pledged to provide 3 billion euros this year and next to help some 2.7 million refugees living in Turkey. It could give 3 billion more from 2018.

The money is an incentive — along with visa-free travel in Europe for Turks and fast-track EU membership talks — for Ankara to stop migrants coming to Europe.

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11:55 a.m.

A group of 28 refugees from Syria and Iraq have arrived in Slovenia as part of an EU relocation plan to deal with the migrant crisis.

The refugees came Thursday from Greece where thousands have been stuck for months following the closure of the so-called Balkan corridor toward the wealthy EU nations.

Slovenia is slated to take in 567 refugees from Italy and Greece by the end of next year. Authorities say they will look into each of the asylum requests separately.

Slovenia's interior ministry says the group that arrived Thursday will be taken first to an asylum center in the capital of Ljubljana.

More than 500,000 migrants have passed through Slovenia before EU and Balkan nations imposed restrictions earlier this year in a bid to control the flow.

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11:40 a.m.

The European Union has decided with immediate effect to allow Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to keep border controls in place for up to six months to deal with the migrant influx.

EU headquarters said in a statement Thursday that the controls should be "targeted and limited in scope, frequency, location and time, to what is strictly necessary to respond to the serious threat and to safeguard public policy and internal security."

It said the countries should inform each other of exactly where they plan to carry out the controls.

Germany reintroduced ID checks last year to cope with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Its legal avenues for keeping the controls in place were set to expire on Friday without this EU decision.

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11:30 a.m.

Germany's foreign minister says "the ball is in Turkey's court" as the Turkish government and the European Union face off over conditions for Turkish citizens to be granted visa-free travel to Europe.

The visa waiver is one of the incentives offered by the EU for Turkey to stop migrants leaving for Europe and take back those who do arrive. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier acknowledged Thursday "we have a strong interest in this agreement on migration not collapsing."

Turkey was given conditions to secure the visa waiver. The main obstacle is Ankara's refusal to narrow its definition of "terrorist" and "terrorist act" amid concerns that journalists and political dissenters could be targeted.

Steinmeier said: "If Turkey fulfills its commitments, then I would be for fulfilling our commitments and allowing visa liberalization."